The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form (Perspectives)

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9780131833432: The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form (Perspectives)

In West and Central Africa in the centuries just before and after European contact, powerful kingdoms flourished, each with its own distinct art practices. The royal arts of Benin, Yoruba, Dahomey, Asante, Kongo, Kuba, and others are the subject of this book. What are the court-art traditions of the African royal states? How do art and architecture define individual, dynastic, royal, and national identity? What is the impact on them of centuries of trade, colonization, and religious exchange? How is this art to be understood within its cultural context? Blier draws on a vast range of individual objects - crowns and masks, thrones and regalia, palace architecture, painting, textiles, body decoration, and jewelry - as well as archival photographs of art works in use in ceremonies and performances. Using detailed descriptions she offers a subtle cultural reading of these complex arts. Blier's thoughtful and expert examination goes beyond particular visual analysis to explore vital questions of royalty and power, divine kingship, state cosmology, the place of women at court, and the use of art in dynastic history, diplomacy, and war.

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This is a revealing look at the rich artistic traditions of the Benin, Yoruba, Cameroon, and other great African kingdoms by one of the world's leading scholars. Suzanne Blier treats the arts of these royal African cultures in light of the most up-to-date scholarship, placing them Afrocentrically, in the context of wider cultural, social, artistic, and religious traditions.

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